Inspirational student speakers at Class of 2020 Virtual Celebrations

Our Class of 2020, who are enjoying their Virtual Celebrations this month, had some inspirational student voices speaking at their digital events. We caught up with some of them to hear about their time at Bristol, their passions, and their plans for the future. And we welcome them into our alumni community!

Leah Martindale, (BA 2019, currently studying for an MA), Sabbatical Officer: Postgraduate Education, speaking at the Arts event

“My time at Bristol housed the best experiences of my life. From the friendships I made that will last a lifetime, to the invaluable lessons I learned in and out of the classrooms, my time in this beautiful city has shaped me into someone fearlessly empathetic, radically tender, and a life-long learner. Coming from Birmingham I am used to a multi-cultural environment, but the environment at Bristol was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I found space to find my feet, be challenged, and ultimately walk my own weird path in a space shaped by experience and adventure. I’ve never been gladder for any choice than my choice to apply to Bristol, and I will forever be proud of the person I became in this magical city.

I am passionate about fairness and equity in education and when I finish my term as sabbatical officer, I will return to the student body and finish my MA in Film and Television. My end goal is to go into research in the field, with specific interest in the musical genre’s cross-sections with African American history and culture. I would also love to work more in Widening Participation, particularly with children and young people, and increase interaction with the arts regardless of background or financial circumstance.

I am passionate about living a life with as much good output as possible, and being remembered more for kindness and strength of character than wealth or fame.

I’m opposed to the misconception that things cannot be worth doing or owning simply because they are pretty, or nice, or make you happy.”

Rushab Shah, (MEng 2020), Sabbatical Officer: Sports & Development, speaking at the Engineering event

“I could not have asked for a better university than Bristol. I have learned so much from my time here, and as an international student from Kenya, Bristol will always be a home away from home. Academically, the quality of teaching was very high and there was a lot of opportunity to develop and grow professionally. I’m passionate about renewable energy and my long term career aspiration is to enter this field.

I actively engaged with the many societies at Bristol: I learned how to scuba dive, played in the men’s football team, and in my final year I was the president of the East African Society. Throughout my four years in Bristol, I met inspiring and motivational people, I met some of my best friends here, and I have created memories that I will hold close for the rest of my life. I am very passionate about student inclusion and that’s what motivated me to become a sabbatical officer. I feel that there is a lot of opportunity to improve the student environment by eradicating discrimination on campus, tackling racism in the student community, and taking on the role of the Sports & Development sabbatical officer will be a great platform to do so. I’m a huge advocate for sport, and I love playing football, and going on runs.”


Lucy Jobson-Wood, (BSc 2020), outgoing President of the Biomed Society, speaking at the Life Sciences event

“Bristol is a unique and beautiful city, and it’s been a great place to live as a student. I love how the University is located in the heart of the city and feels very much part of the Bristol community. I studied Biomedical Sciences, a course which was varied and challenging, and I found all the teaching and admin staff very friendly and supportive. As I couldn’t bear to leave Bristol or the University, I am staying for another year to complete a research master’s course. My project is trialling the sequencing of circulating tumour DNA in rectal cancer patients, which I am very excited about as cancer genetics is a field which greatly interests me and in which I hope to work in the future.”


Roy Kiruri, (LLB 2020), Sabbatical Officer: International Students, speaking at the Social Sciences & Law event

“I found my time in Bristol to be like a wave of fireworks going off. Every day that passed, a new adventure arrived, a new destination to explore in the city arose, new topics and ideas presented themselves in my degree, and new people came into my life, some of whom I hope will be lifelong friends. Bristol provided me with so many valuable experiences to learn, not only about my course and the world around me, but also about myself. Bristol provided me with a place to fully immerse myself in certain cultures and at the same time be exposed to so much diversity and beauty in difference. Bristol, in essence, was truly a home away from home for me.

When I complete my term as a sabbatical officer I hope to pursue a master’s in International Financial Law, before going on to qualify as a solicitor. I’m passionate about ensuring that international students who want to live and work in the UK after their studies are supported fully in their aspirations. Drawing from my own less than comfortable experiences, I am really energised by the prospect of helping many students achieve their career aspirations and hopefully go on to leave their mark on the world.”


Ruth Day, Sabbatical Officer: Student Living, speaking at the Science event

“I have just finished my third year of a four year Maths and Philosophy degree, but I am taking a year out of my studies to work full-time as Student Living Officer. I have really enjoyed my time studying at Bristol over the last three years. I found that my course challenged and stretched me, and I really valued all the experiences I gained from getting involved in various societies and campaigns at the students’ union.

This year, I hope to work together with students and staff to make some real changes in the areas of mental health and wellbeing, housing, and sustainability. I am really passionate about us all coming together to make this University as supportive and inclusive a place as possible.”


The virtual celebrations do not replace traditional graduation ceremonies, which have been postponed for now, but are an additional way to come together and mark the achievements of the class of 2020. If you would like to follow these celebrations on social media, you can do so by searching for the #BristolClassof2020 hashtag. More information on the Virtual Celebrations is available online.

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